European Court upholds verdicts of Georgian courts on Rustavi 2 ownership case, says TV belongs to former owner

The European Court of Human Rights says that Rustavi 2 belongs to its former owner. Photo: Rustavi 2., 18 Jul 2019 - 12:57, Tbilisi,Georgia

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has released its verdict on the Rustavi 2 private broadcaster’s ownership dispute earlier today, upholding the verdicts of Georgian courts on the case.

Rustavi 2 and its current owners earlier filed with the ECHR as plaintiffs, claiming that the Georgian City Court, Court of Appeals and Supreme Court had delivered unfair verdicts.

ECHR stated that none of the articles of the European convention have been violated in relation to Rustavi 2, including the right to a fair trial.

The European court sustended the enforcement of decisions of Georgian courts on Rustavi 2 in 2017. Photo: ECHR.

The verdict of the court will allow for the enforcement of the verdict of the Georgian Supreme Court to return 100 per cent of the channel’s shares to its former owner Kibar Khalvashi, who won the case back in 2017.

Khalvashi stated that the channel was illegally seized under the United National Movement leadership, while Rustavi 2 accused the government of pressuring the courts to close the broadcaster.

Georgian Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani said that the ECHR confirmed that the verdicts of the Georgian courts were unbiased.

It is not up to the state on when the verdict should be enforced. The new owner has the right,” Tsulukiani stated.

Rustavi 2 has the right to appeal the verdict to the Grand Chamber of the European court.

The channel leadership has not yet commented on the verdict.

The ownership of Rustavi 2 has a very controversial history

  • Established in 1994, the broadcasting company changed ownership 20 times between 2004 and 2012.
  • In March 2017 Georgia’s Supreme Court delivered a verdict in favor of Its former shareholder [2004-2006) Kibar Khalvashi, who had filed a lawsuit in 2015.
  • A few days later the European Court of Human Rights suspended the enforcement of the Georgian Supreme Court’s verdict.
  • Currently, Rustavi 2 is owned by LTD TV Sakartvelo (51%) and businessmen brothers Levan (22%) and Giorgi (18%) Karamanishvili.
  • For its part the brothers own 25-25 per cent of LTD Sakartvelo. The remaining 50 per cent of the LTD is owned by a son of the United National Movement Executive Secretary Koba Nakopia, Nikoloz Nakopia.
  • The remaining nine per cent of the channel belongs to Nino Nizharadze.